Amazon ($AMZN) shareholders rejected proposals to stop selling facial recognition tech — Rekognition, sold through Amazon Web Services — to companies without deciding if it violates civil liberties. The shareholders also agreed to self-audit how much this software potentially violates rights and privacy.
But even in the weeks before this vote even took place, Amazon was still chugging along with business as usual. In fact, it's hiring now in the near-triple digits for it, when searching for the term "Rekognition" among all Amazon job listing descriptions over time.
Most of these positions are in Software Development, or the people making software more powerful and fixing bugs. Outside of what type of people are being hired for this, where Amazon is hiring for this technology is also peculiar: it isn't just rolling out in the United States. The technology has already made its way to Japan, Germany, Italy, Singapore, and South Korea.
The company is also looking for engineers that can create a new commercial product that uses facial recognition technology.
According to Amazon's job listings database, there are two active positions being hired for that contain "facial recognition" in the description. One of the positions, a Senior Manager role in Software Development for Amazon Photos, has been up since April 12, 2019. We've been tracking Amazon job listings since May 2016, and this is the first time we've seen a position with "facial recognition" explicitly stated in the description.
One of the most interesting points of the Senior Manager role is within the first paragraph: "Amazon Photos powers the digital photo frame experience on Echo Show and Echo Spot; just say "Alexa, show my photos of Hawaii" or "Alexa, share this photo with mom," powered by natural language processing algorithms. The service offers facial recognition and automatically classifies the people found in customer photos, using state of the art neural networks for people as well as object detection."
The newer position — which is for a Software Development Engineer — has two more interesting items of note:
- Line two states, "Are you excited to create a secured workspace for all Amazon workers using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, facial recognition, and Gait analysis?" (Gait analysis is the study of how people walk).
- The position is meant for someone within "Finance Automation," where its goals are to, among other things, "create technology that simplifies the processes that Amazon uses to procure, collect and pay."
Although this isn't a massive analysis of tens or hundreds of jobs, these two jobs are significant within the context of Amazon's involvement in selling facial recognition software to police forces. Writing code to analyze how someone walks — not just how they look, but how they move — represents a new application of technology by the retailer to everyday consumers' lives.
Combined with data from Amazon proper, the company's march towards perfecting a facial recognition software isn't just stronger, but it's also becoming increasingly commercialized.